ROCHESTER FRINGE 2017 Lineup Revealed with 500+ Shows Many Free

Rochester Fringe 2017 is coming, and I can’t wait!  One of my absolute favorite festivals, Rochester Fringe 2017 will fill the city with art, performances, concerts, and welcome us, the audience, to become part of the show.  The Rochester Fringe 2017 lineup is now live, and tickets are on sale now for this sixth iteration with over 500 shows (100+ free).  Headliners include comedian John Mulaney, the always popular Spiegeltent, and an avante guard FREE performance art event from France, Plasticiens Volants.  Continue reading for all the details about Rochester Fringe 2017, taking place September 14-23, and click here for my experience with last year’s Fringe.

Platiciens Volants - Big Bang - 06 - Photo by Tiana Andriamirija

Platiciens Volants – Big Bang – Coming to Rochester Fringe 2017, Photo by Tiana Andriamirija

From Rochester Fringe’s Press Release

The KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival (Thursday, September 14 – Saturday, September 23) recently announced its entire 10-day, 2017 lineup. More than 100 of the 2017 Fringe’s 500+ performances and events will be free to the public, including the U.S. premiere tour of France’s Plasticiens Volants, presenting one of its grand-scale, jaw-dropping street theatre spectacles called BIG BANG at Friday and Saturday on the Fringe (Sept. 15 & 16) at Parcel 5. Founded in Paris in 1976, Plasticiens Volants is renowned for creating high-profile events in the skies, squares, and streets of five continents – including its most recent production for the Olympic Games in Rio (2016) – captivating audiences with giant, inflatable, floating creatures combined with theater, projected images, music, and pyrotechnics.

Platiciens Volants - Big Bang - 02 - Photo by Dumitru Dragos

Platiciens Volants – Big Bang – Coming to Rochester Fringe 2017, Photo by Dumitru Dragos

Also, Emmy Award-winning writer and comedian John Mulaney’s KID GORGEOUS tour in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre on Friday, Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. He most recently starred in the Broadway hit, Oh, Hello on Broadway alongside Nick Kroll. His third, hour-long stand-up special, “THE COMEBACK KID,” was called “the best hour of his career” by The A.V. Club. Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly has hailed Mulaney as “one of the best stand-up comics alive.”


John Mulaney – Kid Gorgeous

Based on the Edinburgh Fringe model, the vast majority of the Fringe’s productions are submitted by artists and then chosen by the Rochester Fringe venues themselves.

“This year’s shows include compelling, uplifting, thought-provoking, hilarious, unexpected, immersive, silly, important, raw, polished, and indescribable offerings that once again range from the sublime to the ridiculous, from the local to the global, and from Fringe favorites to world premieres,” adds Erica Fee, Rochester Fringe Producer. “We encourage audiences to be just as adventurous and to explore the possibilities!”

Rochester’s Fringe – which happens to be one of the fastest-growing and most-attended in the U.S. – adds another layer by producing its own shows, including the aforementioned free performing arts spectacle each year at Friday and Saturday on the Fringe, which features other free entertainment as well. Also curated by the non-profit Fringe is a second weekend (Sept. 22 & 23) of free entertainment on Gibbs Street (closed to traffic), which includes the return of last year’s hugely popular Fringe Street Beat. Teams interested in participating in this exciting dance battle for the title of Fringe Street Beat Champions and a cash prize of $1500 should sign up at Also returning for its fifth year, the always standing-room-only, free Gospel Sunday show in Eastman School of Music’s Kilbourn Hall (Sept. 17).

Gibbs St Rochester Fringe 2015

One of the highlights for Fringe fans is the annual reappearance of the magical Spiegeltent – an exquisite Belgian “mirror tent” that will once again host Cirque du Fringe. This year’s show is another world premiere created especially for Fringe by Las Vegas’ Matt and Heidi Morgan – Cirque du Fringe: Eclectic Attraction – featuring all-new acts of daring and skill, live music by guitarist Aurélien Budynek, and a healthy dose of comedy. Late-night in the Spiegeltent: the sublimely bawdy, award-winning musical comedy The Bicycle Men, and the return of the total sell-out hit, Silent Disco. Last year’s sold-out Disco Kids returns as well.

Cabinet of Wonders Rochester Fringe 2015

In the surrounding Spiegelgarden – that chill, urban lounge at One Fringe Place (corner of East Main & Gibbs Sts.) – Pedestrian Drive-In returns with a new set of cult and classic films (free) using Silent Disco headphones. All of this year’s movies have a Rochester connection as well. New this year: 3D Sound Experience in the Immersive Igloo is an ambient, electronic soundscape housed within a glowing, 40-foot, inflatable igloo.

Immersive Igloo

Immersive Igloo coming to Rochester Fringe 2017, image courtesy Rochester Fringe

In addition to the Igloo show, Fringe once again focuses on site-specific work in the Spiegelgarden, with new editions of favorites Dashboard Dramas IV in parked cars and Bushwacked: Crystal Magic Wonder Cabinet Palace Tent. Three free shows are brand-new offerings: Complimentary Heckling, Storychick Rochester Storybooth (to record a 3-5 minute story for the booth, visit, and the space between. Site-specific work in other venues includes the multimedia collaboration LABYRINTH (RMSC’s Strasenburgh Planetarium), Spooky Stories in the Stacks (Central Library) and The Structure of Us (Makers Gallery & Studio).

Rochester Fringe 2015

Also debuting this year: FARM TO FRINGE, a partnership with some of Rochester’s favorite local farms and proprietors to bring a fresh, flavorful experience to the festival, including a beer, wine & spirits tasting on Saturday, Sept. 16; pumpkin carving and painting in the Speigelgarden on Sept. 22 & 23: and a Fringe Afternoon Tea in the Spiegeltent on Sunday, Sept. 17.

Farm To Fringe

“KeyBank is very proud to be the title sponsor of an event that is such an inspiring celebration of our community’s creative spirit,” says KeyBank Rochester Market President James Barger.  All of us at KeyBank are committed to helping our communities thrive, and that’s reflected in our recent inclusion on Points of Light’s annual Civic 50 list as being one of the most community-minded companies in the U.S. and a leader in the financial sector. We can’t wait for this year’s KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival to start!”

Rochester Fringe 2017

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About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.